“Respect My Craft” – Nicholas Brendon

In this consumer-based industry, it can be easy to forget the years of hard work that the people in the business put in. Behind every panel, it takes a skilled writer, artist, inker and colorist to make the product complete. Behind each scene goes hours of preparation. Hush Comics’ weekly article “Respect My Craft” will dive into the history of these comic book and pop culture greats that will hopefully give a new perspective on how the men and women behind the pen (or stylus) contribute to the collective awesome-ness of the nerd world, or at least give you a reason to invest in their work.

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NOTE: Nicholas Brendon can’t make Denver Comic Con.  So sad!  We will see you next year!

Name: Nicholas Brendon

Profession: Actor

Notable Work: Xander Harris from Buffy the Vampire Slayer

“I want people to say, ‘Nicholas Brendon, he’s supposedly the nicest guy in the world.’ I want to do good work, but more than that, I want to stay a good human being. That’s more important than any character I play.” -Nicholas Brendon

Nicholas Brendon has been in my life for 17 years.  Typing that seems so surreal, and it makes me seem much older than I really am.  When I was 9 years old, Buffy the Vampire Slayer debuted on TV, and I was hooked from the start.  I instantly knew I was Buffy, and subsequently, Nicholas Brendon’s Xander Harris became my best friend.  When I was in 5th grade, I was the new girl in school.  I made fast friends with a boy and a girl and I often roped them into playing “Buffy” with me on the playground.  It worked out well that the boy was named Alex, and he was the best Xander any 10 year old could ask for.  15 years later, when I was lucky enough to attend San Diego Comic Con in 2012, I had the opportunity to meet the real life Xander Harris, Nicholas Brendon.  I remember being very scared, even at 25, to meet one of the people who influenced my thought process and language.  He even gave me the oft said line, “It’s funny if you’re me.”  I nervously approached his table and as sweet as pie, he asked if I wanted a hug.  Who would say no?

Adrian and Nicholas Brendon 2012 SDCC
Nicholas Brendon and I San Diego Comic Con 2012.

Nicholas Brendon was born in 1971 in Los Angeles.  And yes, he does have a twin brother named Kelly. And yes, it is mind boggling how similar they look.  Brendon was a huge baseball fan growing up.  As a child, he dreamed of being a Dodger.  Brendon loved baseball so much that at his own prom, he decided to watch a Dodger game instead.  “We had better music at Sunnydale’s prom than at my real-life prom. And at my prom, I didn’t really have a date, which is sort of what happens to Xander. At my real prom, I kind of ducked out the hotel ballroom and watched a Dodger game until 3 a.m. because it went about 22 innings. And my friends were saying, ‘Oh no! Where’d Nick go?’ I think I was trying to get people to worry about me. That whole teenage angst thing.”  When he was a teen, he injured his arm, making his professional chances slim.  After dabbling in many different careers, Brendon decided at age 25 to try to become an actor.

Brendon’s career really began with Buffy.  He had been in showbiz for about 3 months before he got the job of a lifetime, playing Buffy’s quirky, yet lovable best friend, Xander.  Before Buffy, Brendon had played background roles in Married with Children and Children of the Corn III.  It has been highly publicized that Brendon has a stutter.  He has talked very positively about how he has dealt with it, becoming a role model for people who also stutter.  When it comes to his decision to act, he has said, “I always wanted to be an actor, but with a speech impediment it’s kind of tough. I decided to roll the dice and take an acting class, which was very, very nerve-wracking… my stomach would just be in knots.”  His roll of the dice led to his most notable role.  For 7 years, Brendon was a lead role on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, appearing in 143 episodes.

Nicholas Brendon as Xander Harris
Nicholas Brendon as Xander Harris in BtVS.

Brendon’s Xander started out as a goofy, not so popular skater, and best friend to other not so popular Sunnydale High sophomore, Willow Rosenberg (Alyson Hannigan).  Over the shows 7 seasons, Xander became more than just comic relief, although he was always good at that.  In his relationship with Buffy and Willow, he was the heart of the group.  Along the way, he ended up becoming the secret boyfriend to the most popular girl in school, the go-to guy about weapons due to his knowledge of the Army, and the only guy on the show without some sort of “label” who also saved the world.  Xander may have been “The Zeppo”, but Brendon’s portrayal of the character allowed everyone to love him.  And led everyone to cringe, wail, and yell violently when he got his eye poked out.

Nicholas Brendon as Xander Harris with his gals Buffy and Willow (Sarah Michelle Gellar and Alyson Hannigan).
Nicholas Brendon as Xander Harris with his gals Buffy and Willow (Sarah Michelle Gellar and Alyson Hannigan).

Since Buffy ended in 2003, Brendon has been in roles intermittently, though he admitted in his panel at Comicpalooza 2014 that he believes he has been typecast.  Despite that, he is a recurring character on Criminal Minds as Kevin Lynch, a technical analyst and love interest to the character Penelope Garcia.   He also played Lee McHenry, a rapist, who had a 4 episode arc in Private Practice.  He has spoken on how emotionally difficult that was to play.  Aside from acting, in 2010, Brendon and artist Steve Loter started an online comic, Very Bad Koalas.  Currently, Brendon helps write the comic adaptation of Buffy, contributing largely to his own character, Xander.  In two weeks, Brendon’s new movie Coherence will come out in theaters,  Coherence is a science fiction drama about a group of friends who are together when a comet passes over Earth.  It is being highly touted, and you can read a spoiler-free review here.

Hush Comics is very excited for Nicholas Brendon to come to Denver Comic Con.  Buffy may have ended 10 years ago, but Xander will always be “the heart.”

Most of the media in this article belong to Hush Comics; it  belongs to their respective properties (Mutant Enemy). Join us tomorrow as we continue our countdown to Denver Comic Con with chameleon Karl Urban.

written by Adrian Puryear

Comicpalooza 2014- Buffy Panel

A small scale Buffy reunion was in full action at this year’s Comicpalooza. In attendance were James Leary, who played Clem in seasons 6 and 7; George Hertzberg, who played Adam in season 4; Clare Kramer, who played Glory in season 5; James Marsters, who played Spike in seasons 2-7; and Nicholas Brendon, who played Xander Harris for the entire run of the series. The panel was in question and answer format.

Click on the link to take you to all of our Comicpalooza articles
Click on the link to take you to all of our Comicpalooza 2014 articles

One of the first questions on deck was whether the actors were a fan of the genre before they were cast on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Brendon said he was not and still doesn’t do too much revolving around the genre, but says “I started with the best, why settle for the rest?” James Leary began his acting career after the show had been on the air. When he went to L.A., Buffy was one of the 5 shows he wanted to be on. Hertzberg said he just likes good writing regardless of genre. But James Marsters had the best answer. He said that in 1973 there was a Star Trek convention in Oakland. He went wearing a blue tunic, pointed years, a phaser he made himself and a big, blonde Afro. What a vision!

There was a fan hell-bent on touching celebrities faces. At every panel I went to where this person was in attendance, they asked to touch the stars face after asking what the strangest question the star have ever been asked. Marsters said his idea of strange is way sicker than we may think. For some odd reason, both Brendon and Marsters misheard “face” for something a little more personal, proving they are both a little sick. At one point in the panel Brendon expressed a crass desire for a Xander pregnancy kit. Marsters said he wanted Spike condoms. After some sexually overt banter, Brendon took it too far and Marsters asked if there might be kids in the audience. As a note, it may too adult for little ones to go to a panel with Brendon.

The Buffy cast at Comicpalooza 2014
The Buffy cast at Comicpalooza 2014

James Marsters talked about his favorite episode “Once More with Feeling,” or The Musical. He said no one had much faith in creator Joss Whedon because when they were given the tape where Whedon had recorded the songs, they realized Whedon couldn’t sing or play piano. Marsters believed Whedon was going to “flush the show down the drain along with all of our careers,too.” Today, the Musical is a cult favorite episode.

Each actor shared their favorite line from their respective characters. Kramer’s is “did anyone else know the Slayer is a robot?” Hertzberg, in good humor considering his lack of dialogue, said his is “Mother.” Leary’s is “Spike, she is sweet girl. Issues!” Brendon had a hard time deciding because he had so many great lines. Two of them are “Master-bater” from Buffy vs. Dracula and “I’m 17 years old, everything makes me horny.” Marsters, in his British accent said to the crowd, “Out for a walk…Bitch.” And if you are familiar with that line you know we all cheered when he said it.

As far as memorable fan moments, Clare Kramer talked about a recent proposal from one fan to another at Emerald City Comic Con. Leary likes when fans talk about what Buffy means to them. Marsters met someone who helped design the Mars rover. But Hertzberg had the most interesting story. He said he was in London and a father and daughter came up to his table. The little girl said, “Show him Daddy, show him!” Then the man lifted his shirt and there was George as Adam tattooed on the man’s back.

When talking about the iconic language of Buffy, Kramer said it was easy to memorize because it was so rhythmic and poetic. Marsters said Buffy was not like other shows where you could improvise. He joked that Joss would yell, “James, you missed a comma!” If they could play different characters, Marsters said he would play Clem, only because the actresses would sit on his lap and play with his ears. Leary said that Marsters has a different memory of his time on the set than he does. Pranks were rare because the set was so hard working. However, at a Christmas party, Alyson Hannigan received a bloody prop of Clem’s ear which she shockingly exclaimed “This is so cool!” when she saw it.

James Marsters spoke on one of his favorite Joss moments on set. When it became apparent Spike was more of a romantic vampire rather than a scary one Joss was upset. His intention with vampires and other demons were to make them ugly and scary like the things people overcome in adolescence. Joss approached Marsters, backed him up against a wall and screamed “You are dead. You are dead! YOU ARE DEAD!” It is important to know Joss is famous for killing off loved characters. Marsters also said his role in Macbeth helped him prepare for the role of Spike because they both enjoy killing people.

James Marsters and Adrian at Comicpalooza 2014
James Marsters and Adrian at Comicpalooza 2014

Nicholas Brendon told the audience that be originally came up with the shwarma joke from The Avengers while filming Buffy. He said he has seen Robert Downey Jr. take credit for it. Brendon quipped “fucking liar.”

Fan fiction has long been apart of Buffy because fans write so much of it. But do the actors read it? James Leary has looked at Clem and Spike relationship stories while Brendon has looked at Xander and Giles stuff. Marsters says he really appreciates when people release their creativity but as far as reading it, “No way in heck!”

The hardest thing to film in the series for Marsters was the episode where Spike attempts to rape Buffy. Marsters says any scene with that theme he refuses to watch and it actually sent him to therapy. He qualified it by saying it was a good thing; however, it was still eye-opening to hear that. Marsters wrapped up the panel by saying he preferred being the villain because the villain can watch everyone else run around and feel guilt they can’t save anyone. The villain can also mess with people. He would mess with Sarah Michelle Gellar and then when they had to fall in love, he had to be nice. Although he had to be nice, he was able to continue his “mean” streak later. He ended by saying, “So I went on Angel and messed with him.”

written by Adrian Puryear

Comicpalooza 2014-Nicholas Brendon Panel

Comicpalooza takes place in Houston, TX.  This year, Hush Comics was given the honor of going as press, our first time for doing so.  Read all of the accounts of what happened on our site!

 

Click on the link to take you to all of our Comicpalooza articles

Click on the link to take you to all of our Comicpalooza articles

 

“I will curse I will talk about sex and I will talk about some venereal disease.” And boy did he ever. Nicholas Brendon whose claim to fame is as Xander Harris in the series Buffy the Vampire Slayer had a question and answer panel at Houston’s Comicpalooza 2014.

“Nicky” began by talking about being in Spain last weekend while filming his new movie Coherence. He advised the audience to never go to Spain for only a weekend and compared it to doing illicit drugs, which admitted he was familiar with. His first question came from a tween girl who asked if had a girlfriend. His response? “I do not have a girlfriend do you wanna go with me? To a dance. “Strictly platonic.” He hopped down from the stage and slow danced with her as if they were at a middle school social. It was very adorable. And as a Buffy fan since its inception, I was very jealous.

Nick then told a story about being young and his mom taking the whole family to Alcopoco. In addition, they had car phones which was a big deal at the time. He then said he and his brother couldn’t get Christmas presents that year and his mom told them it was because “Santa Claus had a bad year.” That is how he found out Santa wasn’t real. Brendon was sure to make sure all the young ones in the audience already knew Santa wasn’t real before telling the story.

Brendon was very clear that Xander is the best character on TV, constantly calling himself and his TV character “awesome.” However, Spike is his favorite outside of Xander. He also got a bit uncouth and said he would like to be Anya, but if he had the chance, he would look at his breasts all day because Emma has good breasts. He did say, after much consideration, that the best partner for Xander was Anya. “It worked, then she died.”

Nicholas Brendon Comicpalooza 2014
Nicholas Brendon Comicpalooza 2014

When asked if he stole anything from the Buffy set, Brendon talked about taking the long leather coat he wore as a vampire in the episode “The Wish.” It was from Barney’s and he wore it to a bar in Tennessee and left it there. When he went back, it was gone. He jokingly said it was one of the reasons he quit drinking, which has been a topic of media scrutiny in years past. He felt bad about the coat, but not bad enough to steal the other coat they had at the studio.

His thoughts on Spuffy? “She was a whore!” referring to Buffy. And preparing for the musical? He said “I didn’t care if I sucked; I wasn’t hired as a singer or a dancer, so I went for it. It just so happened I was great at it. ” He then said his only preparation was singing in the shower as a child. A mystery about the episode “The Replacements” was answered, too. It was always Nick who played good Xander and Evil Xander; his twin brother, Kelly, was only there for the over the shoulder shots. Apparently Nick is “just that good” at acting. His favorite episodes are “Once More with Feeling”, “The Body”, “The Zeppo”, and “Hush.” He does like that Dawn and Xander are now an item, but is glad he didn’t have to act that because Michelle Trachtenberg, who portrayed Dawn, was so young at the time.

Nicholas Brendan goofing off at his Comicpalooza 2014 panel
Nicholas Brendan goofing off at his Comicpalooza 2014 panel

His favorite big bad is The Master. Brendon was very uncomfortable about answering who his favorite kiss was and talked about how un-sexy on screen kisses are. He was not warned he was going to lose his eye, but was told from the beginning that he, Sarah and Alyson would never be killed off. His funny anecdote was about wanting to be funnier in Season 7, but Tom Lenk who played Andrew was the comic relief. “This was a different Willow when I started! But Joss had other plans. Like, I lost an eye!”

Little known tidbits included a story about how Captain Mal was written for him. When Firefly was picked up before Buffy concluded, Brendon was not in the running for the role any longer and it was given to Nathan Fillion. He also auditioned for the role of Deathlok in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.; however, J. August Richards won the role. When he started on Buffy, he had only been acting for three months.

On his current project, Brendon is helping write Buffy Season 10. He has made sure that the language of Xander is really the way he would talk. He makes sure Xander repeats himself often. In addition, he enjoys working on the Xander and Dracula relationship making it as homoerotic as possible. He wrapped up with his classic “Snoopy dance” and every Whedonite squee-ed.

Nicholas Brendon showing a Whedonite how to Snoopy Dance on stage at Comicpalooza 2014.
Nicholas Brendon showing a Whedonite how to Snoopy Dance on stage at Comicpalooza 2014.

written by Adrian Puryear